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HUM 321 M2D1: Treating the Person Not Just the Disease

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HUM 321 M2D1: Treating the Person Not Just the Disease

Some believe that the Medical Humanities can be a way to help practitioners go beyond the biological and scientific to better relate to what a patient is experiencing emotionally and psychologically. Including these dimensions in patient care produces better outcomes. There are, however, real challenges for practitioners to practice what they have learned from Medical Humanities. The increased use of technology in medicine and the limited amount of time that practitioners can spend with patients can interfere with getting to know the circumstances of a patient’s life, as well as how he or she feels about being ill.  Doctors should not only treat diseases medically, but they should treat the person kindly and holistically.

Discussion Questions:

Prepare for the discussions by reading and viewing the assigned materials. The Module Notes can be used as a guide to understand some of the content of the materials.  This activity aligns with module outcomes 1 and 3.

  • According to Peabody, why might it be important or even necessary for a doctor to know the personal details of a patient’s life when treating medical problems? Does there need to be common or definitive language when describing disease, illness, sickness and pain? What do Boyd and Selzer think is the role and importance of language or metaphor, especially as it relates to treating the person?
  • Please read Hass’s poem, “The Story about the Body” and listen to the Melissa Etheridge’s song, “I Run for Life.” How is the person, who has suffered or is suffering from an illness or disease, being treated?  Do they want to be treated as more than a body with a disease?


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